Add this Page to Facebook!   Submit to Twitter   Submit to Reddit   Submit to Stumble Upon   Pin It!   Fark It!   Tell A Friend  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite Save As Favorite View Article Stats
No comments

OpEdNews Op Eds

Summertime Hunger Spike

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 1 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; (more...) ; , Add Tags  (less...) Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com


Summertime can be a carefree, relaxing season filled with cookouts, backyard picnics, and trips to the ice cream truck.

But for too many kids, summer vacation means having an empty stomach. Child hunger and food insecurity often peak during the long, hot break. At a time when food insecurity is so high, an overwhelming majority of American children who receive free or reduced-price meals at school goes hungry once school lets out.

The federally funded Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program provide nutritious meals and snacks to low-income children during the summer months. Unfortunately, it's "falling increasingly short of meeting the needs," according to the Food Research and Action Center.

Schools, local governments, sports programs, and private organizations that serve eligible children can all feed kids in summer school programs. But in July 2010, just 2.8 million children received lunch through the summer programs on an average day, the Food Research and Action Center found. That's only 15 low-income kids for every 100 who received lunch on an average day during the school year. By that measure, only one in seven children who needs summer food is getting it.

There simply aren't enough programs available to serve all the children who need them. The continuing fallout from the Great Recession has only made this worse as budget cuts have led many communities to slash funding for summer schools and summer youth programs, making opportunities for summer meals even more limited.

Some programs don't run for the whole summer, and there aren't enough eligible programs providing robust activities and services in addition to meals that draw families in. Adding programs and services and keeping sites open longer could both reduce childhood hunger and help many communities create desperately needed jobs -- a win-win. This should be a priority in communities across the country.

Even where summer feeding programs are in place, there isn't always enough outreach to let all eligible families know about them. In addition, these programs tend to be available for shorter and less regular hours than a normal school day, which limits participation. Transportation often isn't provided, so making these programs available where hungry children are is important. Some programs have had success providing mobile meals. That can be especially helpful in rural communities.

Many organizations that provide summer activities for children may not even realize they're eligible for funding to serve meals. Others find they would be able to participate with just a little help from local foundations or community donations to cover extra expenses like refrigerators or coolers.
 
USDAgov/Flickr
USDAgov/Flickr
 

Sometimes the amount of paperwork required to run a site is a barrier. Small programs may have special difficulty running sites -- for example, a church-based program serving 15 children may not have the same infrastructure as a school running a summer school lunch program. These kinds of obstacles shouldn't be standing in the way. We should be using these programs as effectively as possible to enable more sites to provide meals for needy children this summer -- and helping many fewer children to go hungry.

How is your community helping hungry children this summer? Encourage civic and philanthropic leaders to get involved. Encourage sites to stay open longer during the summer and help get more eligible kids to participate in the summer programs that can keep them from going hungry.

Now is the time to act. Hunger and poor nutrition are linked to physical, mental, and dental health problems -- and poor educational outcomes -- that don't end when summer starts.

Crossposted at OtherWords.org

 

http://www.otherwords.org


Marian Wright Edelman is president of the Children's Defense Fund & Other Words, A project of the
Institute for Policy Studies


Add this Page to Facebook!   Submit to Twitter   Submit to Reddit   Submit to Stumble Upon   Pin It!   Fark It!   Tell A Friend
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Summertime Hunger Spike

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
No comments